Bob Godfrey’s work reflects his irreverent, humorous approach to life. He is best known for his television series Roobarb and Henry’s Cat, and he has also won an Oscar and a BAFTA award for his 1974 film Great, a musical based on the life of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the Victorian engineer who built the Great Western Railway.
Godfrey started in animation as a background painter. In 1954, shortly before the start of commercial television in Britain, he co-founded Biographic Films. The company made hundreds of television commercials, with Godfrey himself appearing in many for Courage beer. In 1965 he formed his own company.
Like many animators, Godfrey has made personal films alongside his commercial work. Several, such as Polygamous Polonius (1959), take a satirical view of the absurdities of sex. Kama Sutra Rides Again (1971) and Dream Doll (1979), about a seedy gentleman’s love for an inflatable doll, were both nominated for Oscars.
Dream Doll (1979)
His children’s television series Roobarb, made in the 1970s, features his style of continuously moving outlines for the characters. Godfrey produced the effect, which he called ‘boiling’, by drawing in felt-tip pen on paper and changing the shape of the outline in every frame. Stan Hayward, Godfrey’s long-time collaborator, wrote the 1980s series Henry’s Cat. Each episode featuring the custard-coloured cat and his friends was narrated by Godfrey and ended with a philosophical thought, such as ‘Glamour is mostly pie in the sky. Life is mostly pie in the eye’.
Henry's Cat - "The Good News Day"
Roobarb And Custard - "When Roobarb Made A Spike"
Godfrey has continued to work well past normal retirement age, producing a series of short comic gems for the MTV channel. The Many Deaths of Norman Spittal (1999), based on drawings by Jeremy Banx, show the various fatal events that befall the luckless Norman. He is making a cartoon based on Shakespeare. (via)
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